Friday, November 11, 2005

Schlepping over the Rainbow (Danny Miller)

Here are a few extracts from one of my favorite blog posts ever, Schlepping over the Rainbow - from Danny Miller's Andy Hardy Writes a Blog:

For as long as I can remember, I thought that "The Wizard of Oz" was an important Jewish tale on par with Noah's Ark or the Exodus from Egypt. ... The once-a-year broadcast had all the earmarks of a Jewish celebration.

The family gathered around my grandfather in clusters as he warmed up the huge RCA console. My grandparents were the only people we knew who owned a color television set. Instead of thinking that this was the reason for our presence in their home on this night, I thought they owned the set so that we could properly observe the ritual broadcast.

From the first sight of the MGM lion I was transfixed, swept away in religious reverie. The early scenes of the film on Dorothy Gale's Kansas shtetl were filmed in black-and-white, a bleak foreshadowing of the encroaching doom ... The danger to the Jews first took the form of nasty Miss Gulch, a classic anti-Semite who wanted to take Dorothy's precious dog to the authorities and "make sure he's destroyed."

With her long brown braids and simple gingham dress, Dorothy bore a striking resemblance to old pre-war photographs of my Aunt Gittel Chana in Poland. Dorothy was obviously a Jewish character with her longing for a better world "over the rainbow," her reverence for animals and nature, and her eagerness to expose false idols such as the Wizard himself.

Glinda the Good Witch: Not a Jew. No Jewish woman with power would ever be so soft-spoken or be caught dead in that pink cinched-waist gown.

The Munchkins: Jews. Short, odd-looking, clannish people who live apart from the Oz mainstream.

Scarecrow: Jew. A wise old soul who values education above all else and tortures himself about not being smart enough. He probably got this neurosis from his never-satisfied parents.

Tin Man: Not a Jew. With his kind and loving nature, the Tin Man is one of the Righteous Gentiles ...

Cowardly Lion: Jew. Though full of bravado and a loud bark when he feels backed into a corner, he is really a pussycat at heart, unable to harm a fly. A classic narcissist with unresolved sexual issues. A disappointment to his loved ones who wanted him to go into the family business but admired by his friends for his willingness to buck tradition and face his worst fears.

Winkies The Witch's Guards: Not Jews. An elite army of evil who later claim they were "just following orders." Gestapo henchmen who show no loyalty to their leader but switch allegiances whenever it suits their needs.

... the residents of Emerald City are perfect specimens of a Master Race. Though beautiful, graceful, and strong, they lack individuality and are easy prey to a charlatan who has delusions of grandeur and hopes that no one would pay attention to the man behind the curtain...

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At 4:05 PM, Blogger MaryB said...

Hmmmm. Certainly an interesting take on the story. I'm so shallow, I just enjoy it (the movie, that is) at face value, not bothering to try to tease out the political implications of the characters. Was Baum Jewish? I know he's from German origin but that's about it.


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